San Rafael Second & Fourth Street Intersection Untangling the Maze at San Rafael’s West End

The 2nd Street and 4th Street intersection in San Rafael’s West End is part of an important connector route between downtown and San Anselmo, Fairfax, and West Marin. As many can attest, it is also an awkward and difficult intersection to navigate on a bike. Happily, San Rafael’s Department of Public Works has already begun the process of reconfiguring this intersection. 

Project Location

Untangling the Maze at San Rafael’s West End

This project is focusing on the intersection of 2nd and 4th Street in West End San Rafael, near Pond Farm Brewing, immediately east of the “Miracle Mile.” This intersection is an important gateway to both existing and planned bicycle routes and pathways, including 4th St. and the new two-way bike path along 2nd street, currently under construction.

Crossing Confusion 

Biking through this intersection today requires waiting at multiple long signal phases, awkward turns, waiting next to fast-moving traffic, and (in theory) dismounting to walk through multiple pedestrian crosswalks. Additionally, there is a lack of signage and wayfinding to help direct riders through the crossing or notify drivers of bikes and pedestrians in the area. This makes for a confusing and unpleasant user experience, and is not very welcoming to less-experienced bicyclists.

A Brighter Future

Untangling the Maze at San Rafael’s West End

The latest design concept, pictured above, is a massive leap forward in usability and safety.

Let’s break down what the flow of traffic would look like. 

Westbound Travel

The slip lane on 4th Street, near Pond Farm Brewing, would be split into a protected bike lane and a right hand vehicle turn lane. This will direct bicyclists to a small plaza where they can cross 2nd Street using the pedestrian crosswalk, and cars can access Urban Remedy and Ziggy’s Rioja Pet Grooming via the existing driveway. Cars exiting the Urban Remedy lot will be directed to the existing driveway just west of the new plaza. This is a far more direct crossing for bikes to navigate and will only require wait times at one signal phase. It has the additional benefit of removing the fast on-ramp traffic from 4th Street toward Miracle Mile, one that Pond Farm Brewing staff have told us is dangerous to their patrons as well as cyclists. 

Eastbound Travel

Bicyclists heading eastbound will be encouraged to use the new protected bikeway on 2nd Street as they exit West End Avenue and access 4th Street farther east, rather than crossing to 4th at this intersection. This design choice is our main concern. To get to 4th Street and downtown San Rafael from 2nd Street, bicyclists would have to make a left hand turn onto G Street using the pedestrian crosswalk, which is located on the western side of G Street and will deposit bikes head-on into traffic, a seeming oversight. An existing example of this is the crossing from the bikeway on Francisco Boulevard to Tamalpais Avenue in downtown San Rafael. 

Untangling the Maze at San Rafael’s West End

The left turn onto G Street from the 2nd Street bikeway, pictured above, deposits bicyclists against the flow of traffic.

What’s Next

Funding for construction has already been secured, and the City will continue to work on the design based on feedback and needs assessments. The above design is draft, and the final product will likely change. 

Once a design is approved and construction of the 2nd Street bikeway is complete, construction for the 2nd/4th Street intersection can begin, likely in late 2023, according to city staff. To learn more about this project and subscribe to updates, check out the City’s website

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